Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
Chapter 172 – The End of the Hunt
After storing all the treasure in the hidden room, we returned to O’Connor and the others who were being held hostage.
“Is everyone alright?”
“Yeah, somehow. Where are the pirates?”
“About ten of them are alive to give up information later. They’re bleeding, but I think one or two will live long enough until we can get them to the guards.”
According to O’Connor and the bodyguards, all but ten of the hostages had joined the enemy side as soon as the pirates had boarded the freighter.
I’ve heard that story somewhere. I shook my head in disgust.
“Were they taken in, blackmailed, or manipulated by the pirates…?”
“No, there was no time for that. There was no sign of sanity. The crew and guests came together quickly, despite the urgency of the recruitment. They must have been in on it from the beginning. I have a vague idea who was behind it.”
“Your business rival?”
There was a case like that at Sarz’s, wasn’t there? I don’t know the details because I didn’t hear about it until the end.
“No. This time, the ship was not for my personal business but for emergency transportation requested by the southern lords. The port of departure is the southern territory, and the cargo is a donation to the central territory. It is not the trading company that benefits from its failure. It’s the rival lords.”
“Huh? What’s that? Are the lords hostile to each other in the Republic?”
Well, considering the power struggle in a noble society, it’s not particularly surprising.
“Hmm? You are not from the Republic?”
“Well, yes. I used to be a merchant of the kingdom. Now I’m an adventurer.”
“We’re in the middle of our seasonal labor. What is the extent of the rivalry between the lords? Enough to raise an army in public?”
“Yes. The bordering empires have been quiet lately for some reason. In fact, it seems as if conflicts between territories are likely to start first.”
“Judging from the way things have been going, it seems that it has already begun, hasn’t it?”
“Yes, that’s right. The southern territory where Lafan is located has been developing rapidly recently. In the eyes of the North and the East, it is an emerging power that threatens their vested interests.”
“For those who want to see the downfall of the southern territories, the pirates are a blessing in disguise.”
“…No, it’s not a blessing in disguise; it’s actually a military expedition in disguise. The merchants have long whispered that the increase in the number of pirates off the southern territories is due to the lords of the north and east pulling strings behind the scenes.”
So they are like the privateers of medieval Europe. Pirates are recognized by nobles and kings as a foreign power that plunders for the national interest.
“For some reason, most of the passengers on this cargo ship were from the northern territories. If they disappear with the ship, the northern lords will demand compensation for the damage done to their own people.”
“So he will be able to enjoy the benefits twice. That’s smart.”
“Three times, to be precise. Supplies, reparations, and actual profit. Even so, the trade between the south and the center will be disrupted, and the reputation of the rulers will be damaged. Also, the North and the East would be able to check the Central Territories and, in turn, the State Council. If the two coastal territories refuse to cooperate, it will hinder the Republic’s foreign trade and shipping.”
I looked at Myrril, and she gave a small nod.
“That’s enough of that kind of thing,” she said. I agree with her.
I’m not interested in political battles or economic wars. I didn’t come all the way to the Republic for that kind of thing. If I had to deal with that, it would have ruined my winter vacation.
“If we could get our supplies back, we’d be more than grateful. In exchange, I’d like you to testify against the lords of the Southern Territories…”
“Not a chance.”
“I’m sorry, but it’s none of our business. We’ll get the pirate treasure, do some shopping in Lafan, and go back to Sarz.”
“Oh, no… without that cargo, there is no point in us surviving.”
“I’ll give you guys your stuff back. If you give me a list of the cargo or something, I’ll hand it over to you after we get back to Lafan. But other than that, we won’t help you.”
“If you have a problem with that, this is where it ends.”
At that moment, the pirates, tied up behind their backs and threatened by Tig and Louis, walked out of the hidden room. Almost all of them were limping; their faces contorted in pain.
“End, you say…? No way.”
“If something gets in the way, it must be eliminated. If they are talking about something that is not there, it will only add unnecessary trouble, won’t it?”
Myrril pulled out a gun and pointed it at O’Connor.
A shot rang out, and the pirate survivor, who had been holding a bow behind a rock overhead, tumbled to the ground. The hostages froze.
“You didn’t see anything, did you? You did not see their faces, their identities, what they did, how they did it, nothing. Do you understand?”
O’Connor and the others nodded their heads frantically.
“If you can keep a secret, we’ll get you as far as Lafan.”
“Just remember. If you make a mistake on your promise, you will be in for a world of misfortune.”
Chapter 173 – Lafan Grounds
We had just completed the pirate subjugation and moved to the pier at the bay, where we were at a loss for how to proceed. Specifically, how to travel the three kilometers from the pirate stronghold to Lafan across the water.
We could return in the proud boat that Calmon and his father, Kayson-san, operate.
“Looks like they got our signal.”
Louis and Tig, who had been waving a flag from the ramparts, come back and tell us. Louis points in the direction of a fishing boat coming out from behind the island toward us.
We looked at the relieved merchants and tilted our heads. It seemed as if they didn’t understand the problem.
“By the way, O’Connor, how are you guys going to get home?”
Even if you’re surprised like that, there was no way we could all fit in that little boat. Even the outward journey with only six people on board was not that comfortable.
When I told them that, the merchants and bodyguards immediately changed their expressions to despair. I guess they didn’t get it.
“Can’t you guys navigate the ship?”
“We’re merchants; we don’t have any experience in navigating ships.”
“We’re just bodyguards, and we’ve done a lot of fighting, but this is the first time we’ve ever been on a ship.”
“How about sailors that come with you?”
“They joined the pirates and were killed by Takifu-san and the others.”
You can’t blame me for that. There was not a single sailor on board who did not join the pirates.
“Alright, then, pirates, row!”
The tied-up pirates silently glanced at each other. It’s written on their faces that as soon as they are released from their bonds, they will flee in a riot.
Well, that’s alright then.
“Yes, then all of you look at that.”
There was a figure in the corner of the cove peeking out at us. From the shabby outfit and the spear he seems to be hiding, he is probably a survivor of the pirates.
Myrril nodded at me with her UZI at the ready.
“If anyone resists.”
A few seconds after the shot, we could see his head bursting open.
We attempted to work the suddenly obedient pirates to link up the rowboats and set sail with the pirates and escorts in front and the merchants in the back, but we ran into problems early on, not to mention leaving the cove.
One of the pirates bled to death.
Of the nine remaining men, not even half were in a condition to row. Several of them have purple cyanosis, which means they will probably die if they go out to sea.
To be honest, I don’t mind them dying, but it would be troublesome if they were to drift out to sea with the merchants and the bodyguards.
In this case, I might as well buy an outboard motor.
It is not impossible to buy a ship, but we would like to enter Lafan in order to advertise the defeat of pirates. With a ship that does not exist in this world, the ship will stand out more than the pirate extermination that we want to promote.
And we can only use it while we are in the Republic.
However, it seems that staying put is not an option. It’s the winter sea. When the sun goes down, it’s not safe for us either. We can’t return home just because the weather breaks.
Calmon’s father, who had arrived by boat, approached me.
“Tig told me about the pirate ship, but I think my son and I can handle that one. That one can take all of us, can’t it?”
“Really? You are truly a man of the sea, Kayson-san!”
“We’ll leave our boat here and come back for it later.”
“It’s fine, you see.”
The pirates’ ship, the stolen cargo ship, and Kayson-san’s fishing boat are stowed away, and only the rowing boat is left at a distance.
“I’ll keep it for a little while and give it back to you when we get home.”
“Oh, well. You can do anything, can’t you, Takifu-san? Okay, I’ll take care of it.”
Perhaps Kayson-san knew what was going on, or perhaps he had a lot of nerve, but he was not particularly surprised. It was depressing to be surprised and asked in-depth questions at every turn, but I learned for the first time that it was also a little sad not to get a reaction.
I ask O’Connor and his bodyguard to tie up the pirates again, who are no longer needed as rowers.
The merchants are loading the cargo I’ve taken out of storage. The contents of the cargo were rather unimportant dummies as long as we could show them to the Lafan people when we entered the port. I should have taken them out on the ship, but since I had no idea of the proper placement, I left it to them.
I asked the two “Battlecry” to be on the lookout for the surroundings.
After leaving the port, we had a little trouble passing through a difficult part where rocks were scraping the hull, but once out in the open sea, the pirate ship picked up speed smoothly with the wind in its sails.
Kayson-san and Calmon’s ship-handling skills were quite impressive. Perhaps it was because of the larger size of the ship, or perhaps it was because the ship was heavier due to the increased cargo and crew, but the pirate ship’s movement was stable, and we did not feel as seasick as we had on the outward journey.
Tig and Louis are on guard on the port side, but I don’t see any other vessels as far as I can see, at least not to my eyes.
“Are there any pirates who attack pirate ships?”
“No. If they are in the same business, they know that they usually don’t have any money. Pirates and bandits are only warm in the pocket just after they attack a merchant.”
O’Connor nodded at Louis’ words.
“That’s right. And even though Lafan is getting richer, it’s not enough to feed more than one pirate.”
“Hey, something’s coming.”
I turned at the voice and saw Tig pointing ahead. Louis is also at a level where she can see things with her eyes, too, and of course, my eyes can’t see anything. Myrril checks with the binoculars.
“There’s a pattern on the white cloth that looks like a badly made red bird. What ship is that?”
Myrril opened her hands, laced her thumbs together, and wiggled her fingers. It was O’Connor who saw it as if it were a depiction of a shadowy bird and immediately reacted.
“It’s not a bird; it’s a giant octopus. It’s the lord’s ship. It’s a new ship he built to take on the pirates for close combat…”
“Hmm? Wait a minute. Is that target us?”
That’s right. In fact, we’re on a pirate ship.
“Sorry to burst in here, but if it looks like we’re going to get in trouble, we’re going to run away. If you’re the type that doesn’t listen well, we’ll just let you sink.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll explain what’s going on. Both the lord and the guard are quite reasonable.”
“Really? He’s the kind of guy who’s in a political dispute with another lord, isn’t he?”
“That’s why. He used to be a fallen nobleman from a kingdom or an empire. He’s had a hard life, so he’s stubborn and skeptical, but he’s not a bad guy if you talk to him straight from the heart.”
“How is he as a politician?”
“He is capable. He has insight. He is well-liked and has produced results. But he only believes what he sees and hears, and he has a bad habit of going everywhere…”
The lord’s ship is approaching rapidly. At the bow of the ship, there stood a fat man waving a flag.
I have a bad feeling about this. After all this time, I still feel that I have made a very bad choice somewhere. I don’t know where or what.
“If that’s the lord, it’s a problem. Especially his men.”
“What is he shouting about?”
The lord’s ship, which is a size larger than our pirate ship, approaches and passes us at a slower pace. The guards lined up on the side of the ship were not holding their weapons. This means that they do not seem to have any intention to enter into close combat. Is there no misunderstanding that we are pirates?
Instead, only the lord of the ship is waving his flag at us in a very excited manner.
What is this guy? I don’t sense any hostility or harmful intent, but I’m afraid I don’t know the reason for his enthusiasm.
“Takifu, shall I shoot him anyway?”
“Don’t do it.”
The lord looks at us. Our eyes met. I knew at that moment. I knew right then and there that we were the destination of his frenzy. I don’t know how, but he knows us.
The fat lord threw out his banner, pointed at me, and shouted.
“I found you, Demon King…!”